William James BURKE

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BURKE, William James

Service Number: 4384
Enlisted: 25 January 1916
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 22nd Infantry Battalion
Born: Fitzroy, Victoria, Australia, 1900
Home Town: Collingwood, Yarra, Victoria
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Labourer
Died: Killed in action, France, 5 August 1916
Cemetery: Not yet discovered
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Villers-Bretonneux Memorial (Australian National Memorial - France)
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World War 1 Service

25 Jan 1916: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 4384, 22nd Infantry Battalion
29 Mar 1916: Involvement Private, SN 4384, 22nd Infantry Battalion, Battle for Pozières
29 Mar 1916: Embarked Private, SN 4384, 22nd Infantry Battalion, RMS Orontes, Melbourne

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Biography contributed by Stephen Brooks

Burke was only 16 years of age when he stowed away on the HMAT RMS Orontes which had left Melbourne on 29 March 1916. His attestation papers were filled out on board the ship, 2 weeks later. He overstated his age by 2 years on the papers.

William's father was on active service when he stowed away, his dad 327 Private Michael Burke 1st Remount Unit had enlisted at the age of 54. (he was only in Egypt for a few weeks before being sent home due to old age)

William had actually enlisted on the 1 February 1916, He was 162 cm and weighed 54 kgs'. He was reported missing from Broadmeadows Camp at about the same time he was discovered on board the ship.  An enquiry at Broadmeadows held on 17 August 1916 declared him to be illegally absent and deficient of all his kit. At that stage he had been dead for 12 days, killed in action at Pozieres.

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